How to Pack for a Two-Week Trip With One Small Suitcase

Ask any frequent traveler their rules for a trip, and you’ll likely hear the same advice: Never check a bag. Carry-on only. But fitting everything you need, especially for a longer stay, into one small suitcase and one handbag or backpack requires some ingenuity: The maximum dimensions for luggage going into most overhead bins are 22 by 14 by 9 inches, and though the majority of domestic flights don’t have — or at least don’t enforce — weight limits, some international and trans-Pacific flights do (certain Delta flights to Asia, for example, have a limit of 22 pounds, while Hawaiian Airlines’s maximum is 25 pounds). The payoff, if you do get it right: quicker airport experiences that don’t involve the risk of lost luggage and, upon arrival, fewer decisions about what to wear. Here, tried-and-true tips from a few experts.

Credit…Ilya Milstein

Choose the Right Luggage

Though some regular travelers swear by soft bags — the New York-based stylist Ian Bradley, 38,favors the capacious extra-large L.L. Bean Adventure Duffel — most are committed to hard, rolling suitcases. “They’re lighter,” says Hitha Palepu, 39, a New York-based author and entrepreneur who wrote what might be the definitive book on the topic, 2017’s “How to Pack: Travel Smart for Any Trip.”The polycarbonate material used for hard-shell suitcases, she explains, “is about half the weight of the rugged nylon used in soft suitcases.”These are the rolling bags our experts recommended:

  • A roller from theGerman brand Rimowa is often considered the gold standard, and many people we spoke with vouched for the products’ durability. “They’re more expensive but a worthy investment,” says the New York-based artist Laila Gohar, 35. (Like the Antwerp-based architect Vincent Van Duysen, 62,she flieswith the aluminum Cabin model.) For those concerned about weight limits: The brand’s lightest full-size carry-on is the Essential Lite Cabin, at 4.9 pounds.

  • Palepuis a fan of the hard-shell suitcases by the American brand Béis, which are considerably less expensive than Rimowa’s.“They have the best in-suitcase compression, a really solid construction and a padded handle for dragging through the airport,” she says.

  • The New York-based chef and author Andy Baraghani, 34, who completed a multicity book tour last year, likes the Away Bigger Carry-On: Aluminum Edition because it feels indestructible, he says. “And its glossy finish stands out from the rest of the luggage at the airport.” (Just be careful to check that its above-average dimensions are compatible with your airline’s carry-on size limit.)

Credit…Ilya Milstein

Edit Your Packing List Ruthlessly

“You can’t have a ‘just in case’ mentality,” says Gohar. “If something isn’t absolutely essential, it doesn’t make the cut.”Below, some strategies for identifying the bare necessities.


  • “Look for clothes with viscose or Lyocell blends, or silk and wool — those fabrics are more wrinkle-resistant than most,” Palepu advises. She prioritizes “pants that can be worn multiple times before they become unattractively baggy, patterned shirtdresses (prints help disguise wrinkles) and matching sets that can be mixed and matched with other pieces.” But her real workhorses are men’s non-iron button-down shirts from Uniqlo — they rarely get creased and work with a wide range of outfits.

  • Suits are also a great option because of their versatility. “They can be dressed up with heels for a night out, or down during the day with a tank top and sneakers,” says the London-based creative director Alex Eagle, 40. The gallerist Mariane Ibrahim, who lives between Mexico City, Paris and Chicago, has a similar philosophy: “My bag always includes an evening and a day suit, plus a few staple items in black and white (jeans, T-shirts).”

  • For Gohar, the key is building an adaptable uniform. “If you have a solid base look, you can get away with bringing one coat, one or two pairs of pants and simply changing your shirt daily,” she says. “And I’m not afraid to wash my clothes,or mykid’s, in the hotel sink. I just ask housekeeping for an unscented soap and then hang them to dry.”


It’s easiest to buy travel sizes of your favorite products and refill them from larger bottles at home, which eliminates excessive waste, says Palepu (alternatively, small empty containers can be found at stores like Muji). She also suggests streamlining by finding multipurpose products: “My EltaMD tinted sunscreen is hydrating enough to be my daytime moisturizer; I use my Le Prunier oil as a hydrating serum and a finishing oil and to slick back flyaway hair.”

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